Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Ornament Display

Every year since my husband and I have been married, we have bought a special Christmas ornament to commemorate that year.  Many of the ornaments are crystal and are not very visible when placed on a traditional Christmas tree.  This year I made a display out of naturally shed tree branches to showcase these very special keepsakes.

I used a ceramic vase I had hanging around the house not being used, and then looked around the yard for some branches to hang the ornaments from.  I carefully arrange the branches in the vase making sure to vary the sizes somewhat while still maintaining a balanced look.  Once I was happy with the arrangement, I carefully hung the ornaments.

The total cost of this display was $0.00.  Since I already had the vase and collected branches from the yard, there was also zero waste.  I like using things that are readily available in my yard when I can.  I also think the randomness of the branches gives the display a fabulous look.  If you are in an area where branches are not easy to come by, willow branches from a craft store can be substituted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fall Container Gardening

This container has rosemary (great to clip and use for cooking) in the center with pansies and elfin thyme around the perimeter.

Container gardening is a great option for fall and winter gardening.  It is very easy to compose a lovely container with the many varieties of fall plants readily available.  All of the plants as well as the urn pictured in this post came from a chain hardware/garden center.

Containers can add a big look to a drab corner of a porch or patio.  Planting in a container is a wonderful choice in colder months because in many parts of the country the ground too hard for easy planting.  It is easy to do if you follow a few simple steps.

There are several things to consider when putting together a container.  Choosing a lovely container will get things off to a good start.  It is worth looking around to find just the right one.  I really like stone (concrete) containers because they seldom crack (like terracotta), and their heavy weight gives them a sense of permanence when placed strategically on a porch or in a garden.  If you cannot find what you want at a chain store, try looking at smaller, locally owned garden centers.

Once you choose the container, soil is the next thing to consider.  Although it may be tempting to choose the cheapest, or on-sale potting soil, it is worth the extra money to get a high-quality soil.  Containers loose their water much quicker than plants in the ground, so it is important to look for potting soil with fertilizing and water retentive properties.

The only thing left is choosing the plants.  I find the best aesthetic results when I combine plants of different height, colors, and textures.  Choose plants with your container location in mind.  There are great plant varieties for all locations; shade, part-shade, and sun. Plants can be changed seasonally, or left indefinitely, depending on your selections. Work from the center of your container with taller plants, and then out to the edges with shorter ones.  

Once you are happy with your results, water well (and regularly) and enjoy!
This elfin thyme is wonderfully fragrant with diminutive purple flowers  It also has a trailing habit, so in the coming months I expect it will be spilling over the sides of the pot providing an elegant look. For this container I purchased one plant and divided it, putting a section on both the front an back sides of the container.  This helps to create a balanced looking container.